Learn to Recognize Stress.
As hard as this may be to believe, there are many of us who are so used to being stressed out much of the time, that it actually begins to feel normal. Another way to explain this is that many of us have completely forgotten what it feels like to be totally relaxed and alert and if that situation should happen to occur, we are uncomfortable with it and seek to get ourselves back into a state of stress and what we perceive to be ‘normal’ once again.
We actually feel out of balance when we are experiencing a healthy, balanced state.
How crazy is that?
Calmness is not only feeling relaxed, it is also just as important that we are fully alert. We need both to be able to withstand harmful effects of stress. Being in a balanced emotional state means maintaining a calm state in three areas:
If you find that you do not feel calm, alert, productive and focused much of the time, then you may be experiencing problems managing your levels of stress.
My Life Experience Example
Today presented exceptional situations in my personal life that threw me into a level of stress that I have not experienced in a very long time. It absolutely stemmed from events out of my control and it involved people I love and care about, including my own reputation.
All is calm right now, the reality of the day’s events before me, whether I like them or not. It is evening here as I sit at my desk to write this post, and things are quiet enough for me to get in touch with my body’s reaction to the stress.
* Changes in breathing – without a doubt, I am sighing more and feeling something akin to a ‘need’ to take in huge breaths through my nose.
* Tightness in muscles – there is a noticeable tightness in my neck, back and shoulder muscles. They are rigid and flexed rather than feeling relaxed and at ease.
* Heavy Eyes – I had enough sleep last night, but my eye lids feel as if they weigh a ton and need to shut. It is a struggle for me to keep them open.
* Throbbing Head – I am experiencing a pulsating sensation in my head, especially around both my temples. The pounding is constant, persistent.
* Stomach Ache – My stomach feels extremely tight and sore. My eating habits today were not ‘typical’ for me. I ‘forgot’ to eat breakfast entirely and although it is dinner time and I “should” be hungry, I feel as if eating will only further upset my stomach.
Quick Tension Review
In order to get in touch with your body’s response to tension and stress, try the following:
* Pay close attention to your muscles and ‘inside feelings.’ Do your muscles feel tight or sore? How about your stomach, do you sense a tightness or soreness there? What position are you hands in? Are they clenched?
* Pay close attention to your breathing. Are your breaths shallow? Try watching the rise and fall of your hands with each breath, while placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Observe when you breathe fully or when and if you “forget” to breathe. Also observe sighing, a need for deep breaths or hiccoughs.
Get in touch with your own body’s response to stress.
There are some stress responses we all share internally as humans. Our heart pumps faster, our muscles constrict and our blood pressure rises. Our bodies work extra hard and pull from our immune system when we are stressed. For more information on this and other information about emotional awareness, visit Help Guide..
On the outside, however, there are three different ways we can respond to stress:
* Overexcited Stress Response – Anger and agitation – we can show this by yelling or acting out in ways that demonstrate this such as throwing things, hitting things or other people, almost always resulting in our feeling regret and remorse for saying or doing something we shouldn’t have. We will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
* Under-excited Stress Response – Spacing out or withdrawing – we disconnect ourselves, allow ourselves to become distracted in other things around us, lose our focus and attention and pull further and further away in attempts to avoid the source of our stress. We will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system
* Both Under-excited and Overexcited Stress Response – Freezing up – we become immobile, numb or paralyzed. This is because we are experiencing both a speeding up in some areas and a slowing down in others. The result is an inability to move in any direction at all We will need to work with stress relief activities that provide both safety and stimulation to help you “reboot” your system.
By understanding your body’s specific stress response, you can more quickly relieve it.
The next post will go through the reason, understanding and techniques for quick stress relief.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!